NOTE FROM NEAL POLLACK: A rousing thank-you to all the New Yorkers who made my New York Weekend a success. Lunch at Katz’s was delicious, and I am especially grateful to the mysterious Reilly, from Washington, D.C., and Monica and Art from upstate, all of who traveled way too far to see me in a deli. Afterward, some folks and I went to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which was good, but not as good as Hong Kong movies that feature shoot-outs in hospitals and on motorcycles. On Saturday, I read in Washington Square Park and took a swordsmanship lesson from an odd fellow who also claims to be King of the Elves. This is true. The dinner Saturday night was excellent. Brick Oven Galleria in Williamsburg really does have the best pizza in New York, and unlike every place else in Williamsburg, is actually run by people who grew up in the neighborhood. A special note must be noted about Thursday night’s Barnes and Noble reading, which conclusively proved that I am not the McSweeneys Representative. Thanks infinitely to Ralph Nieves, of Falcon Private Investigations, for his lie-detecting skills. Without him, I would be a ruined man today. If anyone ever needs investigations done, of any kind, Ralph is your man, and he also has the best home theater system I have ever encountered. Now, as a treat, I present a play for you, which was performed earlier this year in Chicago as part of Tina Fallon’s 24-Hour Plays series. It is called,
Same Guy, Next Year: A Tragedy in Four Acts
(A sign on the stage reads, in bold letters: 1968. We are in a rather large cloakroom at the home of KATHERINE GRAHAM, publisher of The Washington Post. The noise of an enjoyable party can be heard from backstage. HENRY KISSINGER is softly, but audibly, singing, “I Whistle a Happy Tune” from The King and I. WALTER CRONKITE enters. They embrace passionately.)
HENRY (affectionately): Walter. My wittle newshound.
WALTER (affectionately): My wittle pookie-wookie dip-wo-mat.
(HENRY gently pushes WALTER away, at arm’s length)
HENRY: Let me look at you. Oh. You’re just as handsome as when I first saw you. Do you remember?
WALTER (sighs): How could I forget? It was during the London Blitz of 1940. I was a junior newsman, boiling with the thrill of reporting my first war.
HENRY: And I was working for British counterintelligence, secretly funneling weapons to the Japanese. The fun we had!
WALTER: What fools we were! What impetuous lunatics in love!
(They laugh uproariously, almost to the point of crying, until the laughter subsides.)
WALTER: Oh, Henry. Why must we meet like this in secret, once a year in a closet? Why can’t we just let the world know how we feel?
HENRY: We will, my precious anchorman, we will. Just as soon as we drive all the Communists from Asia and Latin America. Three years, tops.
WALTER: I’d rather be with you than be The Most Trusted Man in America. They could even let that punk Dan Rather have my job, for all I care.
HENRY: Then kiss me, mustache. Kiss me.
(They move to kiss. The door opens KATHERINE GRAHAM is there, resplendent. HENRY pulls back, to WALTER’S obvious disappointment).
KATHERINE: Now, boys! No swapping state secrets without print reporters around!
HENRY: Come, Kay. There’s no news today. It’s the Vietnamese New Year.
KATHERINE: Then you simply must hurry back to the party! Norman Mailer is beating the crap out of Truman Capote!
(WALTER and HENRY look at each other, longingly.)
KATHERINE: Boys! That is an order!
(The placard reads 1977. HENRY and WALTER are in the cloakroom again, shirts off, snorting cocaine. The room is lit like a disco. Disco music plays in the background.)
WALTER: Man! This is some fucking great blow!
HENRY: Haldeman’s been sending me some primo shit from jail.
WALTER: (snorts) I was high when I did the news tonight.
HENRY: I was tripping my nuts off during the Nobel Prize ceremony.
WALTER: Fuck! We rule the world!
(HENRY unzips his pants. KATHERINE stumbles into the cloakroom, coked up.)
(She collapses in front of HENRY and WALTER.)
WALTER: She is fucked up!
HENRY: Maybe we should give her some greenies.
WALTER: God damn, you’ve got a sexy ass!
HENRY: Then let’s get it on, brutha!
(It is 1986. WALTER and HENRY are laying side-by-side under a blanket in the cloakroom. The lighting is dim. The music outside is muted, almost formal. The conversation is low and conspiratorial. Walter cries softly.)
WALTER: Please! You don’t mean it!
HENRY: Bubbles… You have to understand.
WALTER: You used me, Henry. God! Would Edward R. Murrow have gotten himself in a mess like this?
HENRY: You’re just not the same since you started narrating those science documentaries on PBS.
WALTER: I’m still the same reporter I ever was! Things are just a little slow right now. You’ll see, Henry. I’m coming back!
HENRY: I don’t think so.
(WALTER stands up defiantly. He is dressed only in his underwear.)
WALTER: No, goddamn it. I AM A MAN!
KATHERINE: Oh, my sweet God!
(She collapses. HENRY looks at WALTER with pity. WALTER shudders.)
(It is 1998. WALTER sits alone in the cloakroom. He is old. There is no music.)
WALTER: Good evening. I’m Walter Cronkite. Good evening. I’m Walter Cronkite. Good. Evening. Walter Cronkite here. With your news. Good evening. I’m Walter Cronkite.
(HENRY enters with CAMERON DIAZ).
HENRY: So then I said, “no, fuck you, Al, I’m in charge!”
CAMERON: (laughs and nuzzles HENRY). You really are something! (She notices WALTER.) Henry? Do you know who this is?
(WALTER stares ahead, not acknowledging them. Even when we don’t hear his voice, his lips are moving.
WALTER: Good. Evening. This is the news.
HENRY: (sighs) He’s someone I knew a long time ago.
CAMERON: Does he live here? In this room?
HENRY: No. No. He lives in the past.
CAMERON: Well, you sure don’t, my big strapping Harvard Professor of Global Economics.
HENRY (looks at his watch): Hey. We’d better get to that rave. I’m supposed to DJ in an hour!
(HENRY goes over to WALTER and places a tender hand on his shoulder. He kisses him, gently, on the lips).
HENRY: Sayonara, mon petit amigo.
(HENRY leaves. WALTER is silent for a few seconds, then,)
WALTER: And that’s the way it is.
FADE TO BLACK.
- Neal Pollack’s attorney has advised him to inform you, the readers, that this is a work of fiction, and does not imply anything about either Mr. Kissinger’s or Mr. Cronkite’s sexuality or use of illegal drugs. Please read this play in the spirit of Swiftian satire, which has a long tradition of implying, parodically, homosexual affairs between aging journalists and diplomats. Thank you.